Are you getting what you need from your conversation?

I was recently having a discussion with someone who inspires me. We were talking about how important it is conversationally to focus on making sure certain ones are productive. Realistically not all of them are, and that’s okay. However, there are going to be ones which you should be paying a higher level of attention to.

During this conversation, the person shared with me a technique which supports making sure the end result of the discussion can be mutually beneficial. It’s a relatively simple suggestion, and one that I can’t wait to “test drive”. The technique involves pausing during your conversation and asking the person you are speaking with if they are deriving what they need from their side? You might think they are, but as we know, conversations can sometimes veer off into unintended places, which may not result in the desired outcome.

Being able to ask the simple question to determine if the person you are speaking with is receiving the information they were asking you about, or conversely if you were sharing information with them that is helpful, can take your conversations to a new level of communication. Who doesn’t want that? Particularly if you are seeking advice or clarity on a topic.

If you were to ask others how they would rate themselves in terms of being a strong communicator, you might be surprised by their response. What you will find is that some people are not aware of their communication level, style, or that perhaps there is room for improvement in this area. Why? Namely because although communicating with others is something we are all accustomed to doing, doesn’t guarantee we have mastered being proficient in this area. Although mistakenly people will assume that many leaders or sports coaches are at a higher level then perhaps the reality of where they are.

When someone is at a lower level of communication than they are aware of, this presents challenges for both the person, and everyone they are communicating with. Interestingly, although someone might think they are a strong communicator, their lack of awareness is going to at some point begin to surface other issues for them. The most difficult part of this scenario is that often, and ultimately someone is going to have to bring this communication deficit to a leader or sports coaches’ attention. Doing so will require diplomacy and being prepared for the person to be defensive about hearing what is being stated.

Chances are also good that the initial conversation suggesting to someone they should consider working on improving their communication style is going to take the person some time to process and accept hearing this. However, once they get past having time to process what they have heard, and if they understand there will be significant benefit to them improving in this area, that’s when they can begin to move towards increasing their communication ability.

Now you might be thinking, who will help the person who has a communication deficit? Realistically they will need to embrace having an appreciation for how their current style may not be ideally working for them. One way to do this is to have the person start to listen more than they are speaking during all their conversations. They can also have a list of open-ended questions they can ask in multiple scenarios which will provide them with an opportunity to listen more and come up with additional questions based on the response to listen further.

A typical conversational challenge I have noticed with leaders is that they tend to launch into sharing a significant amount of information with others, but do not allow the other party to equally reciprocate. This can be quite frustrating for the listener, as they will be made to feel like conversations are too often one sided. Potentially that they are not given a chance to voice what they may want to convey. Sure, the listener gains lots of information from these conversations, but realistically, is it always beneficial to them?

If you are looking for some other suggestions on how to gain more value from your conversations, here are some ideas you can consider.

  • Prior to having a conversation, consider what you want the outcome of it to be.
  • During conversations with others, pay attention to the body language and verbal clues of the person or group you are speaking to (e.g., yawning, looking unengaged, folded arms, looking away or down, minimal, or defensive responses). If you see any negative clues occurring, ask the person or audience if they are deriving value from your discussion. Or, how they could be.
  • What is your energy level when you are speaking with someone? Is it the appropriate level? When your energy level is out of synch with the delivery of your conversation, the conversation may not end up where you want it to.
  • How is your tone of voice when you are in most conversations? Are you aware of whether you should or need to modify your delivery tone?
  • When you are speaking to others, are you attempting to be influential, yet coming across as dictatorial? There can be a subtle difference, and you need to be aware of which style you are trending towards. If you don’t know how you are coming across when you are conveying information, ask someone you implicitly trust, and make sure not to be defensive about what you might hear from them.
  • Are any of your conversations exciting? Or are many of them filled with negativity, or always serious information? Not all of them will be, but there should be a balance of the variety of types you are having. Are there? If not, this should give you additional insight into why and how others are reacting to conversing with you.

By giving both the leader and those they are conversing with a chance to pause during their conversation to consider if the conversation is providing each with what they need, this will ensure that both sides can gain the value they would ideally like to derive from their conversations. Pausing and asking, “Are you getting what you need from this conversation?” will also increase the likelihood that more beneficial discussions are occurring. As we enter a new year, consider factoring this thinking and technique into the next conversation you have. Better yet, I hope you see that the outcome of your conversations is more desirable this year.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Leaders #Sportscoaches #Sportscoach #Communication #Success #Howtohavebetterconversations #Motivation #Tipsoncommunicating #Bettercommunication #Leadershipcommunicationtips #Teams #Awareness #Selfawareness #Motivation #Teamdynamics #Purpose #Business

Leader’s communication style, responsiveness level and success attainment. Are they linked?

When someone is in a leadership role, there is plenty of scrutiny on everything they do. They are also subjected to having most aspects of what they are involved with measured. Either overtly, or from a judgement and opinion level.  This is something that new or even experienced leaders will either find to be helpful in evaluating their performance, or similar to a heavy weight they must learn to tolerate carrying while performing at a peak level.

One of the most glaring mistakes I see new leaders make is assuming they have to know everything about their role. In other words, that if they ask others for advice, it might disclose they don’t know everything. This seems absurd when you think about it from this perspective. Why? Because it would be unrealistic for anyone, let alone a leader to know everything related to their role. Even experienced leaders will not have mastered everything about their role, and they don’t need to. However, they will need to be humble enough to admit this. Doing so early on in their leadership role will serve them well.

Maybe it’s me, but I find it extraordinarily frustrating when I interact with leaders who truly need support yet will initially keep you or others at an arm’s length and not allow you to help them. Of course, they need the help, they know they do, but they seem to be unable to allow their guard to come down enough to gain value from others experience and advice. Some of this is attributed to their pride or perhaps their ego, and neither will serve a leader well from a long-term success perspective.

Considering how pride and ego can have a detrimental impact on a leader who refuses to realize this, leads me to think about what are the contributing factors to this scenario? Let’s start with how comfortable a leader is with communication. If they do not find this to be one of their strong suits, have they, or will they seek support to improve this ability? Communication comes in a variety of forms, so tackling one at a time is more reasonable. A leader also might find that they can master one type of communication more easily, and doing this will help them to gain traction in the other areas they can then begin to work on becoming better at too.

If a leader is struggling with their ability to communicate well with others, I have seen a pattern of this also impacting their responsiveness levels. For context, I’m referring to how much of a sense of urgency a leader has with handling and responding to via their ideal communication style. When a leader is not yet comfortable with communicating with others they lead or need to engage with a sense of urgency, their responsiveness level generally isn’t as strong or as quick as it could or should be. Given the fact that there are many leadership situations which require a rapid response, if a leader isn’t capable of responding at the required response rate, this will then critically impact the desired success outcome of the scenario they are involved with.

Responsiveness levels for leaders can vary, but one of the negative contributing factors is whether they have even a slight tendency to procrastinate. Perhaps this is because they either feel like they need to take extra time to think things through thoroughly, or that they don’t or haven’t learned how to respond to the urgency and pressure, and then resort to stalling their actions.  This responsive style will not serve a leader well, but only they can decide to alter and commit to not falling prey to this potentially career limiting reality.

Let’s assume you are a leader or sports coach who might recognize the need to improve your communication, responsiveness and ultimately your success level. Here are some suggestions for you to consider how to move in the direction of doing so.

  • What would you say is your strongest area of communication (e.g., verbal, written, listening, non-verbal, visual)?
  • Have you proactively invested in making your top communication area stronger?
  • Are you willing to invest in yourself to enhance your leadership communication ability?
  • What is your timeframe to improve your communication ability, and can you see how doing so will have a positive impact?
  • How would you rate your responsiveness level from a communication perspective? For example, do you routinely get right back to people who are looking for a response, generally delay your response, or perhaps ignore and not respond at all to some people? Perhaps some variation of these? Hint. The most successful leaders and sports coaches are highly responsive, even if it involves the most trivial topic. In this case, they may delegate someone else to respond for them, and that is perfectly acceptable.
  • If you lean towards not being as responsive as you know you could be, ask yourself what is contributing to this behavior and causing your responsive level to be lower than it should be? Stubbornness, lack of having a sense of urgency, self-sabotaging or being complacent are some potential reasons why.
  • Be honest. Is your success level where it should or could be? Write down what may be contributing to your current success level, and make sure that the majority of items on your list are what you can do to impact this. It’s tempting to point finger at others, but ultimately you are responsible for the success you and your team will experience.
  • Ask yourself why you want to ultimately improve your leadership success level. You might be surprised at your responses, and they will also provide you with additional insight into areas you can focus more attention on to improve your situation.

Based on my experience, I will say that a leaders communication ability and responsiveness level is directly linked to the success they and their team’s will have. If either of these two areas are not at an optimal operating level, or considered as contributing success factors, I would recommend they are evaluated and adjusted accordingly.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Sportscoach #Team #Teams #Success #Productivity #Communication #Responsiveness #Business #Teamdynamics #Successtips #Management #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Strategy

Are all leaders coachable?

Presumptions about leaders’ capabilities are made all the time. Often, they are given too much credit for having skills in every imaginable area of their business or the sports team they lead. This is one of the reasons those they lead might become disappointed with the leader. This is also despite the fact we can realistically acknowledge no one person is capable of being fully competent in every area. More importantly, also one of the reasons leaders are supported by others.

We have seen that even with the most ideal support team, this doesn’t guarantee a leader’s success. Although the leadership support team which can include other executives or assistant coaches can provide a structure that will bolster and potentially mask a leader’s deficits, it can also cause unnecessary stress on the team. This will ultimately lead to the members of the team having a lack of trust in their leader’s competency, and eventually burnout for these members. This is a preventable scenario, but one which is also difficult to address with the leader who needs more support. Yet, isn’t receiving it. Perhaps not be willing to either.

Given the scenario above, at some point there will come a time when someone on or associated with the support team will need to have a conversation with the leader or coach. They will need to address the fact that the leader or coach is experiencing challenges in their role by not having some leadership skills they require. Ones that they will need to be successful long term. These skills will be different for each person, but there are some common leadership skills which are foundational ones that need to be mastered.

One of the foundational areas is obvious. Perhaps seemingly easy to master, but it’s not. It’s communication, and like a diamond, there are many facets to this topic. In terms of leadership, a strong leader needs to be able to comfortably convey their vision, strategy and have the capacity to be influential with their communication style. I use the word style, as there are a variety of ways a leader can communicate (e.g., verbally, in writing, demonstratively with body language), and they may be more polished in one or two of these areas. Or not. If they are not strong in the area of communicating, this is often an initial area which is glaringly obvious the leader needs support.

Another area which leaders and coaches commonly have a deficit in is their ability to be influential. If their communication skill is not at the level it should be, this will directly impact their ability to influence others. If they are not able to influence others, this will prevent them from getting everyone on their team onboard. You can fill in the blank in terms of what topics this will have an effect on.

The next area which needs to be looked at is a leader’s ability to collaborate. This will require them to exercise a number of different skills, one of them being able to listen exceptionally well. Having the ability to listen well will provide the leader with information that is being both stated, but more importantly not being said. The ability to listen to what is not being stated is critical in terms of knowing which collaborative approach is going to best suit the scenario for an ideal outcome.

Being humble, and let’s add in vulnerable is another factor which will contribute to whether a leader or sports coach will have success. If they will allow themselves to ultimately be open enough to receive additional support to enhance their leadership capabilities, they will experience far greater and earlier success in their career. Although these factors are ideally addressed early in a leader’s career, more often they are not, and this leads to what I’ll refer to as an ”intervention”. This is less than desirable, but it can make the difference between the leader or sports coach being in their role a year from now. Perhaps next quarter or season.

Experiencing adversity and how you handle it as a leader is going to also impact your “go forward” path. Each adversarial situation will be different. Where you end up on the other side of the equation based on how you handle each scenario is going to be a factor which will contribute to making the difference in terms of the success you and your team will experience. For instance, will you know how to handle every adversarial scenario well? Of course not. However, how well you do handle it, and who you seek support from either conversationally or from an action perspective to best address a negative scenario, will also be a determining factor in the longevity in your role.

If you are wondering if you are coachable as a leader, or if your leader is coachable, below are some suggestions to consider whether you or they are.

  • Are you aware of who you are at a core level, and how you react and interact with your team during adversarial times?
  • Are you willing to admit you don’t have all the answers, and can benefit from seeking support from others with more experience?
  • On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest, how often does your ego get in the way of seeking support from others?
  • Can you easily describe who you are as a person, not as a leader?
  • Can you easily describe your leadership style?
  • What would you say your level is on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest in terms of allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable with those you lead?
  • How comfortable are you collaborating with others on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest?
  • Do you know what your communication style is?
  • How would you rate your communication style, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest?
  • If someone were to suggest that you need more support as a leader, what reaction would you have to hearing this?
  • How would you rate yourself as being a coachable leader on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest?

Being a leader or sports coach is a big responsibility. It is also well understood that many others are counting on you on a variety of different levels for your leadership abilities. Taking the time each year to consider whether you or your leader is ideally positioned to be doing their job extraordinary well, with or without support should be discussed. More importantly, to determine whether you or they are properly set-up to successfully lead others.

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #Motivation #Teams #Sportscoach #Teamdynamics #Communication #Awareness #Leadershipstyle #Vulnerability #Collaboration #Influence

Doing more with less, while making a difference.

Sure, talking about resource scarcity is real, but from my perspective, it can also be an easy crutch to lean on versus figuring out how to do more with less. Especially since seldomly do people complain about having too much. Although of course some do.

On a regular basis I’m having conversations with others who are creatively figuring out ways to accomplish extraordinary things. Most of the time without the resources I would have expected them to have. Resources including money, staff and sometime access to equipment which they don’t have. Does this slow down or put people at a disadvantage when they are seemingly running at a deficit compared to others? Not always, and in fact, this can be one of their competitive advantages.

Consider a time in your life when you were in a scenario when you only dreamed of having all of the elements you thought you would need to guarantee or have a chance of increasing your level of success. I’m certain at that time you felt differently than you have when you had every resource at your disposal. Perhaps you felt more energy or excited about having to leverage your creativity to great lengths to overcompensate for what you didn’t have access to? Or, based on heightened levels of anxiety, you leveraged your anxiety levels to fuel your passion to succeed?

If you haven’t experienced operating in any given scenario at a disadvantage, I’m going to let you in on a secret. It’s actually a tremendous advantage when you have less resources to work with. How do I know this? Because I’ve experienced being on both ends of the spectrum. I can also credibly share with you that being on the disadvantaged side 100% of the time served me and others I was with very well. Namely because we didn’t view ourselves as being disadvantaged. Instead, we understood and simply perceived that we needed to work and think differently to accomplish what we were attempting to accomplish.

When you or anyone else pulls the “pity me card”, it’s equivalent to a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Can you admit to having done this? If not, did you instead blame others for your situation?

Blaming others is equivalent to taking the easy way out of any scenario. I’m going to state that it is also a cowardly approach, and at the height of being selfish, and places the person in a supremely unaware position of the consideration or consequences for others.

Conversely, the people who have the best interest of others in mind, and who might be challenged with not having all of the resources they need, are typically the ones who don’t complain. They also make the best of most situations they are in, and amazingly get things done with either little to work with, or the need for recognition of their achievements.

The teams I have seen who have everything at their fingertips are not always the ones who have the advantage over others. Perceptually it might appear they do, but in reality, the majority of the time they don’t. You might be wondering why this is the case, and it comes down to a simple, yet not well understood method. One that more people are beginning to figure out and embrace. It’s the concept of doing more with less, and being successful…in terms of your own measurement of success. Not everyone else’s.

If you are wondering what suggestions I have if you want to achieve more with less, below are some tips for you to consider.

  • Many of us are guilty of having too much “stuff”. Literally too many items for us to deal with, and that can cause us unnecessary stress just having to deal with and manage all of these physical items.
  • How often are you regularly leveraging your creative ability? If you don’t consider yourself to be creative, is this due to a limiting belief? Or, have you simply not tapped into being more creative to address coming up with a solution for something you need, want or think you can’t live without, but do not have in your possession?
  • Would it be possible to borrow what you need?
  • Is it possible to barter for what you want?
  • Perhaps you have a skill set or physical item that you could leverage, yet haven’t considered tapping into yet?
  • If you are honest with yourself, will having (fill-in-the-blank) really increase your chances of success or allow you to accomplish without whatever you think you need to do so?
  • What if you scale back on what you are trying to accomplish? What are the actual repercussions of doing this, and could you extend the time you need to achieve what you want to with an alternative timeline?
  • Are you willing to work harder, longer or perhaps more strategically than anyone else? What will this involve doing, and is it possible to do these things and have it make a difference?

When we look at accomplishing anything from the perspective of having the mindset we are going to figure out a way to do so independently of the odds against us for doing so, this is often when amazing achievements occur. What’s stopping you or your team from doing this?

TAGS: #Success #Mindset #Motivation #Creativity #Teams #Leadership #Sportsteams #Sports #Business #Businessteams #Achievement #Competitiveadvantage #Teamdynamics #Leaders

Let’s hear some good news.

Despite the fact my degree is in Journalism, I have never been a fan of the news. Yes, this might seem contradictory, but the news is only one form of Journalism. A form that never appealed to me, as I seldomly received value from hearing what was being conveyed. Sure, this might surprise my friends in the news business, but I look at what they do purely as a service.

So, how to I find out what’s happening? There are plenty of sources to derive this information, and we are living during a time to be fortunate to have numerous options. I have family members who need to depend on news sources for their job, but like me, they too must source their information from a variety of places. Mainly to help them to sort out which information could be closest to being truthful, and sans only opinions on a topic.

Sorting out what news information is biased, and which is purely propaganda may seem like an easy assignment. It’s not, and this is because you need to have a wider lens of understanding and looking at the information you are consuming. This takes effort and time, and not everyone is willing to consider doing this. That’s fine, but you will need to appreciate you will be subjected to incredible biases, without even potentially realizing the influence it is having on you. Especially the bad news.

One of my favorite ways to source good news is to talk to people. Particularly when I am traveling. There is something special about hearing others share good news with you. I also adore how excited people get when they have an opportunity to tell you something they are proud of, or happy about knowing. To see people light up and become highly animated when they are telling you about positive news is incredibly heartwarming.

When I am talking to my corporate and sports client leaders, my favorite part of interacting with them is to hear about progress. Why? Because to me, progress is almost always positive. Even if it is minor progress. The fact that others notice progress is also refreshing, particularly when they can go into detail about what has occurred.  I also enjoy seeing how proud people become when they can share good news about those they lead or engage with.

Perhaps hearing negative news impacts me differently than others? I will acknowledge that I know it does, and I have come to terms with this. In fact, I have embraced the fact I know that negative news does not serve me well. However, I can’t imagine it does for most people, so I’m always curious about how people are able to process hearing negative news. Especially in large doses? Yes, it’s my opinion, but I find it hard to believe that this does anyone any favors.

Given the fact my preference is to focus almost exclusively on hearing good news, I’ll share with you some suggestions I have to help you to do so too.

  • This will seem highly obvious, but consider not watching the mainstream news.
  • I’m not endorsing any publications, but there are some publications and online news sources that are oriented towards providing you with as close to unbiased news as possible. I’ll let you decide who they are. Unfortunately, these news sources will contain negative news, but they might also have a balance of neutral or positive news too.
  • When was the last time you started a conversation and asked someone to tell you some good news? Give it a try!
  • Are you someone who loves to only talk about bad news? Perhaps you aren’t even aware you do this?
  • If you are unsure of whether you are perceived as a “negative news” person, ask someone who can truthfully tell you whether you are this way.
  • Consider coming up with a list of topics you want to learn more about. Now invest time in exploring learning more about them, with the focus on understanding what the positive impact of the topic happens to be. Then share the good information with others.
  • What part are you playing in your life or professionally to be contributing to adding positively to our world? Whatever this might be, how can you increase the amount of this to have an even greater positive impact?
  • Helping other people in any capacity is always a great path to pursue to have it conclude with a better outcome. Sharing this outcome with others will both uplift you, the person or people you are helping, and anyone you communicate this information to.

We always have choices to make, and since one of the choices could be to contribute to having more good news to share with others, I strongly encourage you to do so. Especially if it can help to offset in any way all the negative news that tends to override the good news we could be hearing about.

#Leadership #Communication #Leaders #Teams #Goodnews #Happy #Positivity #Management #Thinkingdifferently #Positiveinfluence #Business #Sports #Sportsteams #Corporateteams #Professionaldevelopment #Personaldevelopment #Strategy #Motivation #Beingpositive #Optimisticthinking #Optimist